At 6:10 Thursday evening I received in the inbox an e-mail from
the James Watkins for Congress campaign saying that Jay Inslee, the
Bainbridge Island Democratic incumbent congressman, was vulnerable
in the First Congressional District race in November. That
conclusion came from a survey done by Moore
Information of Portland.
Here are some words of warning. I’m not at all saying Inslee
isn’t vulnerable. That is entirely possible. Given the difference
in national surveys we are seeing about the health care reform
bill, it’s really hard for me to know. Plus, November is a long,
long time away, especially in a non-presidential election year.
However, I feel justified being somewhat skeptical of these
numbers. Watkins commissioned this survey, and we don’t have the
questions, information about the demographics of the people
surveyed, or any other information that would be helpful in
deciphering these numbers. That kind of information is critical in
trying to determine whether a poll accurately reflects what people
That sentiment is confirmed by a blog posting by Jim Small of
the Arizona Capitol Times. Small quotes Bob Moore of Moore
Information in an earlier post.
Finding out who paid for the poll also is critical, said
pollster Bob Moore of Oregon-based Moore Information. If a
candidate has paid for it, then the numbers can’t be taken at face
value, he said, and reporters should do everything they can to
speak to the pollster about the results, not someone working with
“The pollster may get some numbers that the campaign doesn’t
like, and won’t release,” Moore said.
If we see the script with the questions, the demographic
information and the cross-tabs from the survey, then that goes a
lot farther in trusting the results. Last night I asked the Watkins
campaign and the polling company for that information. I
particularly want to see it in light of this item I found about
surveys the company did in New Hampshire leading up to the
presidential primary in 2008. As you read this info, bear in mind it does come
from a site that is pro Democratic Party.
Friday, March 26, 4 p.m. UPDATE: I received an e-mail from
the campaign saying they would check with the pollster. I got a
response from the pollster saying I would have to get that
information from the campaign.
Skepticism is not cynicism. I just want to see more data. Here
are some other clips featuring Moore.
Here’s a 2007 story about polling Moore did
for Dino Rossi. The company is still helping Rossi these days.
Moore Information was referenced in a 2003 column here about
former Gov. Gary Locke.
When I added “push poll” to the search I got this 2004 column from Wisconsin on
Moore Information polling in the presidential race.
Here’s a 2008 Newsweek story that mentions
Moore, but is about negative campaigning generally.
After all that, I decided to go ahead and share the e-mail and
the memo I got. If Inslee’s campaign wants to commission a survey
and publish selective results, I’ll do the same. The rest is after